An Ice Cream Surprise in Columbus

If you've ever had the blessing (or curse, depending on your way of looking at things) of having mint attempt to take over your backyard, then you know the unique pleasures of the herb when it is allowed to run wild. Unfettered mint seems to possess a stronger scent, brighter flavor, and greater intensity than its cultivated counterpart. It will stop you in your tracks, enticing you to snap off a sprig--you'll find yourself rubbing the leaves between your thumb and forefinger, wafting them under your nose and popping a taste in your mouth before you can get back to the kitchen.

Now imagine the pleasures of that mint from your backyard in ice cream form. Think of a dessert whose flavor perfectly mimics its wild, intense essence. Well, that ice cream exists (it's called "Backyard Mint," naturally) and is found at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in unassuming Columbus, Ohio.

Jeni's features unorthodox but delicious flavor combinations, all of them following the company mantra of "Less Sweet and More Flavorful." Take the Bourbon Buttered Pecan, which is made with Maker's Mark, and is an ideal marriage of whiskey, toasted pecans, and cream (think of it as the older, drunker cousin of Rum Raisin). Another is Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries, a tart, tangy delight, with a deep, toasty sweetness from the cherries. One of the most unique is Thai Chili, which can best be described as pad thai scooped into a cone. It's spicy, yet subtly sweet, and full of peanut flavor. (The heat comes from cayenne, not sriracha, but I still couldn't help but wonder what it would be like with a little rooster sauce on top.)

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams  
Triple Scoop at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio

Along with the ingenuity of their flavors comes an impeccability in sourcing. Jeni's uses organic milk and cream from grass-fed cows, all sourced from small dairy farmers. The goat cheese is from Blue Jacket Dairy, which sources their goat milk from nearby Amish farms; the peanut butter and pecans come from the Krema Nut Company; and that "backyard" mint, while not actually from a backyard, certainly tastes as thought it does. It's no surprise to find it comes from a small organic outfit just on the outskirts of Columbus, Jorgensen Farms.

Jeni's flavors are not successful simply because they are irreverent and ground-breaking. They work because a great deal of effort has gone into their crafting--what at first glance seems whimsical, upon first bite is proven artisanal.

Perhaps the best example of this is the Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry flavor. Sweet Ohio corn, true to its name, has been found in desserts before, but never have I encountered something like this, which tastes as if it had been churned in the husk. Nutty, sweet, summery corn reduced to its essence and counter-balanced with a tart, bright black raspberry sauce (handmade, of course, and helped in the tart department by the addition of black currants).

IMG_3726.JPG
Chalkboard Menu at Jeni's at North Market


Columbus wasn't even a planned stop on our food tour, but what a fortunate diversion, and after our visit I would declare it a must for any serious lover of ice cream.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Pints $7-10; Three scoops for $4.25
Five locations in and around Columbus, Ohio
Shipping available, with a minimum order of six pints

Presented by

Terrence Henry

Terrence Henry is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. More

Terrence Henry is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. In January 2009, he and his wife embarked on a food tour of Argentina, Spain, Italy, England, Canada, and the United States. Some 13 months later he settled in Austin, where he is now learning the art of Texas barbecue and writing about food and film.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In